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The impressive progress the government and its donors have made in getting girls to attend school was a good beginning, not a completed task.This report examines the major barriers that remain in the quest to get all girls into school, and keep them there through secondary school.
Relying on Afghan government data from 2010-2011, UNICEF said that 66 percent of Afghan girls of lower secondary school age—12 to 15 years oldare out of school, compared to 40 percent of boys that age.
In 2016, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction wrote: “The Mo E [Afghan Ministry of Education] acknowledged a large number of children are out of school, but is unaware of how many, who or where they are, or their backgrounds.” Donors eager to claim the success of their efforts may not be as skeptical about education statistics as they should be.
A 2015 Afghan government report stated that more than 8 million children were in school, 39 percent of whom were girls.
In December 2016, the minister of education announced that the real number of children in school was 6 million.
The World Bank reported that from 2011-12 to 2013-2014, attendance rates in lower primary school fell from 56 to 54 percent, with girls in rural areas most likely to be out of school.
Government statistics indicate that in some provinces, the percentage of students who are girls is as low as 15 percent.
The Afghan government has not taken meaningful steps toward implementing national legislation that makes education compulsory.
Although by law all children are required to complete class nine, the government has neither the capacity to provide this level of education to all children nor a system to ensure that all children attend school.
So when Taliban rule collapsed in late 2001, the new government and the countries that had joined the US-led coalition faced two critical challenges: how to re-establish an education system for half the school-age population in a desperately poor country, and how to help girls and women who had been kept from getting an education during Taliban rule catch up on what they had been deprived.
The new Afghan government under then-President Hamid Karzai and its international donors approached these tasks with energy and resources.